OPEN LETTER TO THE CANADIAN PEOPLE AND GOVERNMENT
We are writing you on behalf of thousands of military veterans in the United States who believe that Kimberly Rivera and her family should be allowed to remain in Canada.
As a U.S. soldier, Kimberly Rivera spent six months in Iraq where she witnessed the injustice caused by illegal U.S. war. Home on leave in the U.S., she decided that she could not in good conscience continue to be part of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Kimberly Rivera drove to Canada hoping to find a safe haven for herself, her husband, and their two young children.
Since arriving in Canada five years ago, the Riveras have had two more children, who are Canadian citizens by virtue of being born in Canada. How tragic it will be if these children are deported to the U.S. and then separated from their mother, who would be court-martialed and imprisoned.
Veterans For Peace includes members who fought in the Vietnam War, and also veterans who refused to go to Vietnam and found a safe haven in Canada.
We are extremely grateful to the Canadian people for providing us with sanctuary, along with so much understanding, love and care. Thirty thousand Americans who immigrated to Canada during the Vietnam War are now Canadian citizens who have led productive lives in the arts, academia, media, business and law.
We also want to thank the many Canadians who have supported our young men and women who did not want to return to the carnage of war in Iraq. According to polls, two-thirds of the Canadian people believe that U.S. war resisters should be allowed to remain in Canada. We are very grateful to the community groups, churches, unions, and Members of Parliament who have given so much support to these young people of conscience.
According to the UN Handbook on Refugees, soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are widely condemned by the international community should be considered as refugees. Unfortunately, the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada has yet to grant asylum to a single person who refused to kill in the war against Iraq, a war that has most certainly been condemned by peoples and nations around the globe.
Surely there are humanitarian grounds that the Canadian government might invoke to keep Kimberly Rivera and other Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters from being deported to certain imprisonment in the United States.
Veterans For Peace believes that nobody who conscientiously refuses to be part of war should be punished. At our recent national convention, we called on the U.S. government to grant an unconditional amnesty to all war resisters. We will be working toward this goal in the coming months. In the meantime, we call upon the Canadian government to show compassion for these courageous conscientious objectors.
Please do not deport Kimberly Rivera and her four young children to the U.S., where she will face persecution and imprisonment, and her children will experience the trauma of separation from their mother.
The mission of Veterans For Peace is to abolish war altogether. We believe that this goal can be realized and must be realized if human civilization is to survive. Those powerful people who pursue wars of mass destruction are the ones who should be punished, not the poor people we are forced to fight wars for the one percent.
We hope the Canadian government will do its best to represent the will of the peace-loving Canadian people. Please let Kimberly Rivera stay. You will be glad that you did.
Sincerely for Peace,
Leah Bolger, President
Gerry Condon, Board of Directors
Veterans For Peace